With the world economy in turmoil, some of the hardest-hit industries are those in which product investment by consumers would be too large or too frivolous.

This is reflected in the UK car industry, which is slowly beginning a comeback after 2009’s production of less than a million cars – the lowest figure since 1984 according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.

In the past 18 months, the British manufacturing industry as a whole has pledged some £4.5bn worth of expansion to its production centres, such as Jaguar Land Rover and their creation of jobs at two sites – along with BMW at three of theirs, and further commitments to step up production in Ellesmere Port (Vauxhall), Sunderland (Nissan) and Woking (McLaren Automotive). Honda has also added in the region of 500 jobs to its Swindon plant in order to cope with demand for its new Civic hatchback.

All this focus on UK car-making development has paid off as – for the first time since 1976 – the UK has exported more cars abroad than it has imported; an especially impressive feat given the fragile state of the economy. Additionally, the overall goods exported by the UK to countries inside the EU has for the first time been shadowed by those exported outside.

A good example of this is the mini-boom in luxury cars currently being enjoyed in China. Jaguar Land Rover announced last week a year-on-year increase of 91% in overall sales to China, with its second-quarter profits soaring to over £500m. The reason for this is said to be a currently low market share for JLR in China, meaning that more careful marketing could see the number increase even further.

Market share in other European countries, as well as those in the United States, remain pretty steady despite falling sales overall. It would seem that with the right markets in mind for exporting, along with big investments in home-grown production, the UK car export market is seeing some very successful results.

Only time will tell if this proves to be the case in future. (photo credit: Ben Birchall/PA Wire)

Stephen Jury


August 14, 2012

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